China Beach, San Clemente

Photo by Jeanne RiceI enter early at 8:25 p.m., feeling a little blue and somewhat restrained. Bob Marley's Legend is playing in its entirety in a room with pool tables. So far, the only people here is a bachelorette party of young blondes shimmying to War's "LowRider" on the main dance floor. Humbug.

8:50 p.m. Steve-o (not the Steve-o who tends bar at the Limbo Lounge, ne Geckos Mission Viejo) and his buddies troop in from Headcraft. Kinda foxy! Things are looking up.

9:15 p.m. It's my sister Sarah's birthday. It was her idea to come to this Godforsaken place. She and her entourage are cheerful. A handsome Latin man is doing Broadway tap-dance moves to entice the bachelorette party. Suck-up.

9:27 p.m. Ooh! New boyfriend! Alittle buff boy in white pants and pec-hugging tan muscle shirt hangs with his jar-head friends and makes lots of eye contact with the wimmens. Pretty!

9:45 p.m. What's this? Boogie Fever are in the house, as are their vests and giant afro wigs. They do a pretty damn good "Disco Lady." And the singer, a tiny little thing with huge arms the size of Kid Ramos', can't seem to stop doing splits in the air and barrel kicks. Also, he likes to make goo-goo eyes at the ladies.

10 p.m. The bachelorette party drags my new boyfriend off to dance with the bride-to-be. He immediately starts shimmying up and down her body. I break up with him. Thankfully, he's unaware that we were ever going out, especially since I never actually talked to him or anything.

10:12 p.m. Two girls dressed identically in Ally McBeal-length leopard miniskirts, black boots and black tops are double-teaming every old guy in sight. They have some bodies on them, but one unfortunately has terrible buck teeth that preclude her from closing her mouth all the way.

10:30 p.m. Boogie Fever head onto the sidewalk patio overlooking El Camino Real to cool off—and take off their wigs!I am as traumatized as that woman who got dragged "backstage" at Disneyland after being unfairly accused of shoplifting and later tried to sue because her kids were exposed to cast members without their heads on. I immediately revise my opinion of her lawsuit.

10:40 p.m. Things are bustling, with lots of li'l cuties chatting one another up. Where other clubs are stand-offish, this one is friendly and aching to score. I follow Headcraft's cute, nice singer into the cave-like lounge, kinda like an old Howard Johnson's bar, to see the Nasties warming up the crowd. The Reverend Nasty takes off his hat, and rubber snakes fall out. Then he sings a ballad, sounding just like Tom Waits. Then he puts on a pig mask. Let's hear it for the Nasties!

11:15 p.m. Headcraft begin. The cute, nice singer kind of sings like the guy from Rush—a little high-pitched and girly. But then he sings a really neat song about a girl who's pretty. A crazy cool blond girl in combat boots takes to the floor, trying to start a pit. She looks like she could kill everybody, 5-foot-3 or not. It seems my friend Matt is dating her. Cool.

11:42 p.m. Head back to the main room, trolling for fresh meat. My friend Nina is on the warpath out on the smoking patio, telling people they're cute and asking if she can kiss them on the cheek, which she then does for about 30 seconds at a time. They are all of 22—maybe.

11:50 p.m. A broad-shouldered, bespectacled Marine who's older than his posse begins to swivel his hips at me in that peculiarly mesmerizing way some men do. It's hypnotizing. Nina thinks he's dorky. I am under his power.

Midnight. I am still under his power, but he has forgotten my name. I commence yelling at him, but that's okay. He's used to it, which is one of the reasons I like Marines. Also, I refuse to call him by his name but insist upon addressing him as "Sergeant." Why would I call him Chris when he's got a rank I can yell at him?

12:14 a.m. There is a woman sobbing great heaving sobs in the ladies' room antechamber. But since she's not in the actual restroom, there's no way to eavesdrop gracefully.

12:25 a.m. My former boyfriend is now dancing with the leopard girls. I am so glad we broke up.

12:42 a.m. The leopard girls are grinding on one another's butts on the smoking patio. A cool pierced rockabilly girl and I discuss the finer points of pretending to be lesbians in order to get guys. Consensus: we're against it.

OC Weekly [very friendly, pretending not to judge]: Are you girls strippers?Brunette leopard girl [truly shocked]: No!

1:15 a.m. The sergeant is still paying attention, which is good, as I won't have to hunt him down and start shouting at him. He drapes my arms across his shoulders gracefully, as though he's Patrick Swayze and I'm Jennifer Grey—after the nose job, of course. Nina has now discovered that he has a cute li'l corporal friend, whom she insists on addressing as "Chad" instead of "Corporal." My former boyfriend is still dancing with the leopard girls.

1:40 a.m. We adjourn to the 7-Eleven next door to buy beers. Someone buys Coors. They get yelled at.

1:58 a.m. People in truck: "Pardon me, but we've got two minutes to buy beers. Would you please get the hell out of the way?"

We all understand and move out of the driveway.

2:01 a.m. The leopard girls drive up in a huge pickup truck. They've got a man nestled on the seat between them. He is neither old nor ugly. Fascinating!

China Beach Canteen, 2369 S. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 492-6228. Every Sat., 6 p.m. 18+: $5; 21+: before 9 p.m., free; after 9 p.m., $5.


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